Apple Inc. (AAPL): An EPS Decline This Quarter?

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), despite its best efforts with its releases of several new products during its fiscal first quarter, has seen its stock take some shots to the chin in the last couple months – falling more than 20 percent since its all-time high of $705 a share just prior to the iPhone 5 launch – yet the company continue to boast strong profit numbers. But with the well-noted supply-chain issues involving several of the new products which have caused delivery delays and decreased margins, there has been concern that Apple’s days of hypergrowth may be winding down and the company may start to look like a blue-chipper like The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO).

Apple Inc. (AAPL)

But with such profit success in recent years,does the idea of seeing a smaller profit in an earnings quarter crossed anyone’s mind? Well, one writer for Forbes put forth his belief that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may see a decrease in its earnings-per-share number for the first time since early in the George W. Bush administration. Might this be the sign that Apple may be no longer a growth company?

This piece talks generally about very bearish chatter about the last quarter of 2012 overall in the markets, blamed mainly on the sluggish global economy, “fiscal cliff” fears domestically and some general tepidness overall as some early holiday-shopping season numbers roll in. The writer of the piece does mention certain sectors, like Financials, that look like they’ll have decent final calendar quarters, but the tech sector – led by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is looking underwhelming.

Apple has been the main driver for tech success in recent years, the writer notes, with its profits growing 83 percent over the last nine quarters. But he said that if current estimates hold up, Apple may post an earnings-per-share this quarter of $13.48. While still robust, that would be below the company’s $13.87 mark for the same period a year ago, and would mark the first EPS decline for the company since 2003.

This may not be a specific item against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), to be fair. Analysts are predicting that average profit growth among S&P 500 companies is expected to be less than 5 percent, or about half what was predicted just a couple months earlier. So based on that, even a decline in profit may not necessarily portend a transition for Apple from growth to blue-chip company just yet – especially if the growth number is still in the double-digit area as is generally expected.

And even that number, though low by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) standards, would likely still be seen as a positive for investors when looking over the current climate in the markets. What do you think? How do you assess the current quarter, and do you see any gems in the market that may be primed for an early 2013 rally?

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